A Hamas operative from the Palestinian Authority village of Tell, near Shechem seriously considered kidnapping and murdering Likud MK Yehuda Glick or IDF Major Avichai Adraee, the Arabic-language spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, according to an indictment submitted Wednesday at the Ofer military court.
The court papers said Muad Ashtiya gathered intelligence on both of the men via the internet before eventually deciding that it would be easier to kidnap a settler or a soldier from a bus stop or hitchhiking station near Shechem.
According to details of the plot revealed by The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) last week, Ashtiya headed a three-man terrorist cell that planned to execute the plot over the Hanukkah holiday.
The Shin Bet said Ashtiya had purchased weapons and recruited two other suspects — Mahmad Ramadan and Ahmed Ramadan — from the village of Tell.
The cell members were in contact with Omar Atzida, a Hamas operative in Gaza who is engaged in planning and financing attacks in Judea and Samaria. The Shin Bet said the Hamas leadership in Gaza has been actively involved in financing and planning the operation, which it said was aimed at gaining leverage to free security prisoners currently jailed in Israel.
The members of the cell conducted reconnaissance on bus stops and hitchhiking stations, and had planned to dress as settlers in order to tempt a victim to get into their car. Ashtiya, the head of the cell, had also inquired about safe houses in the area, where they would be able to hide the victim and conduct negotiations with the Israeli authorities.
The Shin Bet said it had recovered a number of weapons purchased by the cell members to use in the kidnapping, including a pistol, an electric shocker and pepper spray. The cell had also planned to purchase additional weapons, the Shin Bet said.
Glick has already suffered through an assassination attempt three years ago in which he nearly lost his life.
During that attack in October 2014, Mutaz Hijazi, an Arab resident of Jerusalem shot Glick multiple times at point-blank range outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, causing him severe injuries. At the time Glick was an activist for Jewish rights at the Temple Mount. He subsequently became a Likud Knesset member in May 2016.
TPS contributed content to this article.